Prop 15 supporters say it doesn’t matter who’s running in a political race; the candidate who raises the most money almost always wins.
“And the money is really coming from deep pocketed special interests.”
Derek Cressman is with the government watchdog group Common Cause, one of Prop 15’s sponsors.
The initiative would create a pilot program allowing candidates in the 2014 race for the Secretary of State’s Office to use public funds for their campaigns. Those funds would come from higher registration fees state lobbyists would have to pay. If successful, the pilot program would be expanded to other election campaigns.
Cressman says it would ensure that candidates are not beholden to powerful special interests.
“That’s why people are frustrated when they see the budget process not working in California, when they see healthcare reform not going the way that they want. It’s because the big money donors are pulling the strings of politicians instead of ordinary people.”
But opponents say the initiative has too many loopholes.
“There are problems with campaign financing but Prop 15 isn’t the answer.”
That’s Richard Wiebe – a spokesman for stopprop15.com. He says if that higher lobbyist tax is ruled unconstitutional or if it doesn’t raise enough money, the Legislature could use taxpayer dollars to pay for their campaigns.
“Do we really want to give General Fund money to politicians so that they can stuff your mailbox full of more mailers and run more negative ads on TV?”
And Wiebe says California voters already weighed in on the issue when they rejected Proposition 89 on the 2006 ballot…an initiative that would have taxed businesses to finance campaigns.
“We’ve been down this road before. Voters voted by a 74% margin not to spend tax dollars on political campaigns – no means no.”
But Derek Cressman and other supporters say public financing laws are working in Maine, Connecticut and Arizona.
“What we’ve seen in other states is that candidates who would otherwise never be able to run for office are able to get their foot in the door and to run a credible campaign.”
Among the groups that support Prop 15 are the League of Women Voters of California and the California Nurses Association. Opponents include the Fair Political Practices Commission and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.